Healing Emotional Wounds (Part 2)
Whether a person is born with low Sadhaka Agni or whether they acquired it through poor diet, lifestyle or behavior, the solution is the same: to restore balance by lifestyle changes that nourish wellness. This is done by adopting an Ayurvedic diet, use of Ayurvedic herbals, routines, lifestyle and more.
Sattva Vijaya is a Vedic term that means literally, "winning over the Sattva," or "triumphing with Sattva." Sattva means the positive, pure qualities of the transcendental Self, one's true completely-balanced, cosmic nature. The more you are in touch with that infinite field of bliss within, the more you will feel uplifted, blissful and emotionally stable. So Sattva Vijaya refers to the protocol, the Ayurvedic therapies, which restore the connection between heart, mind and Self. They are the dietary, herbal, behavioral and environmental choices that allow you to become more "self-referral," more aligned with your cosmic, infinite potential rather than remaining caught in the small, confining boundaries of emotional stress. According to Ayurveda, each state of consciousness has a physiological correlate. So, change one’s awareness and the body must follow; likewise, change one’s body and the mind, awareness, will follow. It is a fundamental principal of Ayurveda and the reason why there are a variety of techniques addressing both consciousness and the body.
The most important of these Ayurvedic techniques is transcendence through meditation. Transcendence is a word that refers to the experience of the most settled state of human consciousness. Scientific research shows this is a state characterized by deep physical rest, mental stillness and pronounced balance. Research also shows that the repeated experience of this state in meditation infuses both mind and body with its qualities, and that these qualities begin to grow and endure in our day-to-day life.
Transcendental Meditation® is well known by researchers in this particular regard. Other meditation practices may also be useful to reduce stress. What is paramount is that whatever meditation technique one practices, it brings the mind to the subtler states of awareness until it transcends any mental activity (thoughts) and experiences the silent settled field of awareness, the most subtle awareness or consciousness.
The experience of this deeply settled state dissolves stress from the past and builds resilience to daily stresses. Through the regular experience of transcendence, one contacts the source of pure intelligence, pure bliss, pure Sattva within. Over time the mind and body retain (remember) this experience, so even when we are confronted with the changes and losses of life, we are able to identify more with the eternal, unchanging state of transcendence. In Ayurvedic terms this silent state is known as Atma or Self. This state is important for emotional healing because its nature is deep stillness, and it cannot be overwhelmed by daily ups and downs. Through repeated experience, this state of completely quiet consciousness becomes stabilized in both mind and body.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali declare the importance of this experience: “Yogash chitta vritti nirodhah.” This famous aphorism means, "Yoga is the complete settling of the activity of the mind." Transcendence is the goal of Yoga (yoga means union) — becoming united with the transcendental state of the mind, a state untouched by the changing fluctuations of daily life.
The habit of returning to this blissful state of rest and balance again and again helps emotional stresses to be dissolved or processed. In other words, the practice of an effective meditation allows us to process emotional stress more quickly and helps prevent low moods.
15 Steps to Emotional Balance
- Practice an effective stress-reducing, quieting meditation to relieve emotional, physical, mental and environmental stress.
- Go to bed before 10:00 p.m. Earlier is even better. Getting enough rest is essential for emotional health. Falling asleep during the Kapha time of night (6 p.m. to 10 p.m.) generates a deep, restful sleep that truly refreshes mind and body. If we stay up beyond 10:00 p.m., after the Pitta time of night (10 p.m. to 2 a.m.) starts, we are likely to have more trouble falling asleep and possibly tend toward other behaviors that can be unhealthy, such as turning on the TV or eating snacks, both leading to more issues with sleep deprivation. Even eating healthy foods at this hour disrupts digestion, which needs the nighttime to cleanse impurities and rest. Falling asleep after 10:00 p.m. produces a more restless sleep, and we will be more likely to wake up in the night with emotional distress. Lack of rest is tied to a myriad of physical and emotional health issues. High-quality sleep is a powerful Ayurvedic emotional healer, and a first line of defense against emotional imbalances.
- Wake up with the rising sun. Waking up early is critical to preventing feelings of sadness, because sleeping during the late morning, after 6:00 a.m. (into Kapha time of morning, from 6 a.m. – 10 a.m.), causes the build-up of ama (toxins in the body), leading to the shrotas or channels of communication in the body clogging with impurities. This can lead to dullness of mind, depressed moods and slow communication between heart and mind.
- Walk outdoors when the sun is rising and breathe deeply. Daily exercise is essential to combat unhappiness, because exercise helps move blocked emotions and hormones out of the body. It increases the power of agni, our strength of digestion, and helps improve digestive processing power. Exercise also releases positive neurohormones, elevating mood and positive thoughts. The early morning sun adds an extra boost, because you become infused with the positive energy of the sun when it is at its most sattvic time that is most beneficial for all body types. Walking in the early morning sun helps open the shrotas (circulatory and communication channels) of the body, stimulates digestion and elimination, clears the impurities from the previous day, and is an overall tonic for ideal health. Walking is one of the ideal exercises, according to Ayurveda, and doing so in the morning is ideal.
- Make sure elimination takes place each morning. Occasional constipation can cause head discomfort, dullness, fatigue and feelings of sadness. If your elimination is sluggish or blocked, start your day with cooked apples, prunes and figs. Taking Organic Digest Tone every evening and, in more extreme cases, two Herbal Cleanse capsules at night before bed will help greatly. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Eat your meals at the same time each day, with the main meal between noon and 1 p.m. and a lighter meal in the evening. The early morning walk will go a long way to supporting regular elimination.
- Don't resist natural urges. According to Charaka Samhita, one of the ancient definitive texts of Ayurveda, it is unhealthy to suppress urine, bowel movements, semen, gas, vomit, sneezing, belching, yawning, hunger, thirst, crying, sleep and accelerated breathing due to exertion. The Charaka Samhita states, "The above natural urges should not be suppressed when already manifest and they should not be forcefully stimulated when non-manifest. In other words, don't suppress them and also don't try to force them to happen. Resisting or artificially stimulating natural urges causes an imbalance in the doshas, and can contribute to anxious feelings and emotional imbalance.
- Eat intelligent foods. These are unprocessed, organic foods and contain more of nature's intelligence. They are digested quickly by the body and create ojas. According to Ayurveda, ojas is the essential energy of the body that is equated with the substance of life. Ojas is the product of good digestion that creates bliss, stable emotions and good health in the body. Eat intelligent proteins such as soaked seeds and nuts with raisins; panir (fresh cheese); and Ayurvedic buttermilk or digestive lassi rather than yogurt, as these lighter drinks do not increase Kapha and are better for lightening emotions. To make Ayurvedic buttermilk, follow this simple recipe. Please note that Ayurvedic buttermilk is not the same as the buttermilk you buy in the store. This recipe helps restore the beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract, thus helping digestion and assimilation.
- Spices such as black pepper help to enhance medhya agni, which means they improve coordination between different functions of the mind. Other spices promote digestion and balance the emotions.
- Avoid eating "unintelligent" or junk food if you want to uplift your spirits. Avoid leftovers as well as canned, frozen or packaged foods, as these are not fresh and tend not to enhance creation of ojas. Rather, they may promote the creation of ama, the sticky waste-product of incomplete digestion that blocks our microcirculatory channels (shrotas). Ama slows Sadhaka Agni (see Part 1 of this article) and blocks the communication between heart and mind, causing negative emotions to be stored in the body instead of being released. If the shrotas, or channels, are clear, negative emotions and stress can be processed more easily and released quickly. Another type of food to avoid is the nightshade family of vegetables, which includes potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, and green, yellow and red peppers. These vegetables are considered harder for the body to digest and can clog the shrotas.
- Give yourself a daily Abhyanga (Ayurvedic oil massage). Massage has many benefits: it increases circulation, allows toxins to be cleared from the tissues, invigorates the body, calms the mind and soothes the emotions. The sense of touch is associated with emotions, and even if you are massaging yourself you are giving your skin, the largest tactile organ in your body, the stimulation needed to balance Vata dosha and calm anxious feelings and stress. For your massage oil, consider using Youthful Skin Massage Oils for Men and Women. Follow your massage with a warm bath to flush out the toxins that have been pushed out from the cells with the massage.
- Consider moderate exercise in addition to your half-hour walk in the early morning sun. It's important to include Vedic exercise such as yoga asanas in your schedule. Yoga asanas promote digestion, stimulate the Sadhaka Agni, cleanse toxins from the channels and cells of the body and improve overall balance and health. They are excellent for clearing away the toxins that lead to feelings of sadness.
- Do gentle breathing exercises such as pranayama. Prana is the life force, and pranayama opens the mental channels, the tiny, microscopic channels that convey oxygen to the brain. It balances the solar and lunar energies in the body: the element of agni, or heat, and the quality of soma, or ojas. Pranayama clears away impurities, and creates clearer thinking and balanced emotions.
- Take Maharishi Ayurveda Rasayanas. Rasayanas are elixirs for bliss and rejuvenation, and are the cream of the herbal kingdom, prepared according to ancient methods that can take weeks and even months to make. Maharishi Amrit Kalash is one of the most powerful of all the Rasayanas, and it has the ability to create bliss, contentment, and ideal health. Like any true Rasayana, Maharishi Amrit Kalash has the ability to enhance medhya, or the coordination between the mental functions of learning, retention and recall. This kind of coordination is important for balancing the emotions and helping to prevent feelings of sadness. It is also a great antioxidant, a quality associated with anti-aging.
- Practice Achara Rasayanas, or behavioral Rasayanas. According to Charaka Samhita, if you practice these positive behaviors on a daily basis, you will gain in overall health and well-being. You'll be interested to see many of the suggestions we have already discussed listed here.
- Freedom from anger
- Non-indulgence in alcohol
- Avoiding overexertion
- Sweet speech
- Experience transcendence through meditation.
- Respect toward teachers, parents and elders
- Love and compassion
- Balanced in sleep and wakefulness
- Use ghee regularly
- Act appropriately to time and place
- Practice Ayurvedic control of the senses. It should be noted that "Ayurvedic control" is effortless. It is a natural non-forced state that grows and evolves as one experiences the transcendental value of life. It is not a "control" born of effort.
- Keep the company of the wise
- Positive attitude
- Be devoted to studying truth
A description of suitable and unsuitable company is outlined in Charaka Samhita. Those who are considered suitable company are mature in wisdom, learning, conduct, patience, memory and the practice of meditation. Also recommended are those who are acquainted with human nature, devoid of anxieties, well-behaved with everyone, peaceful, and who advocate right conduct and follow a righteous course of action.
Those who are considered unsuitable as friends or associates are negative in thought, speech and conduct; quarrelsome by nature; and/or devoid of compassion. Also not recommended are people who habitually speak ill of others, cruel or greedy people, those who envy the prosperity of others, those who indulge in sarcastic remarks about others, and those who do not follow a virtuous course of life.
Traditional Ayurvedic Herbs for Emotions
Genuine Ayurvedic herbals are created with one goal in mind: to restore balance to the mind and body. When properly taken, along with proper lifestyle, they support the role of restoring good health and supporting the experience of more subtle states of awareness. As discussed in this article, these refined states of awareness are stabilizing to our emotions.
Brahmi (Bacopa) — Brahmi is a popular Ayurvedic herb that has been revered in India for over 3,000 years. Traditionally, it was used as a brain tonic to support memory, learning, and concentration. The herb is a powerful rejuvenator that assists with mental activity, brain functioning and overcoming feelings of nervousness or restlessness. In ancient Ayurvedic literature, Brahmi was used by scholars and students to help with memorizing lengthy Vedic texts. Due to its calming and nurturing properties, Brahmi is also very useful for highly stressful work or study environments.
Worry Free — The herbs in this formulation simultaneously calm the nervous system while supporting mental acuity — you'll find yourself sailing through the same situations that used to cause a meltdown. It's not about having a different attitude — it's about changing the automatic and immediate emotional reaction you have to stress. And let's face it — life is not going to slow down for most of us. So support a healthy emotional response with Worry Free — it's vital for your health and peace of mind.
Stress Free Emotions — The herbs in this formulation promote self-confidence, positive thinking and feelings of fulfillment by balancing the subdosha of Pitta that governs emotional health (Sadhaka Pitta). Arjuna, Ashwagandha, Mica, Pearl and Holy Basil in this potent new formula promote coordination of mind and emotions.
Blissful Joy — The herbs in this traditional formulation nourish the mind-body connection. They do this by helping remove toxins that make you feel dull or sad, by supporting the memory of bliss in your cells, and by helping to balance hormones that govern emotions. The result is a renewed feeling of energy and happiness — and an overall sense of well-being. These herbs are excellent nutritional support for emotional balance.
Specifically, these herbs help balance three important subdoshas: Tarpaka Kapha, Prana Vata and Sadhaka Pitta.
- Tarpaka Kapha, when in balance, contributes to a stable personality.
- Prana Vata governs energy, creativity, perception, growth of consciousness and self-realization.
- Sadhaka Pitta is responsible for balanced emotions, self-confidence, healthy desires, motivation and a feeling of fulfillment.
Arjuna Myrobalans is famous for its ability to strengthen the heart and emotions. It is a special Vedic herb for uplifting the spirits and promoting emotional stability and strength. Ashwagandha and Holy Basil assist the body's natural resistance to stressful situations, and are also effective in balancing Prana Vata and improving emotional stability.
Stress Free Mind — This formula supports natural resistance to daily mental stress and fatigue. This traditional blend of whole herbal extracts, powders, and minerals nourishes and supports the immune system, which is often taxed by everyday mental stress. Bacopa, Dwarf Morning Glory, Gotu Kola and Indian Tinospora in the formula work to support learning, retention and long-term memory. Pearl, Greater Galangal, Licorice, Jatamansi and Ashwagandha aid overall mental energy. The Ayurvedic synergy of all herbs and minerals in the formula supports mental resistance to stress.
Organic Youthful Mind — The herbs in this formulation help remove toxins that can block your mental abilities, and promote a healthy response to mental stress. They support innate learning ability, clarity and recall; mental energy and alertness levels; and the growth of consciousness and full mental potential.
Mind Flex — The creative mind is calm, curious, imaginative and balanced. A flexible mind understands that we are all connected, helping us deal with the frustrations of modern life. Rigid thinking, on the other hand, creates negativity. Stress is the enemy of creativity. This traditional Ayurvedic formula supports the mental capacity to overcome stress, consolidate information, and think through complex problems.
Veda 2240 — Veda 2240 is a traditional Ayurvedic formula that balances excess Vata in the mind and body. It detoxifies deep within the tissues, to support mental and physical flexibility. It also nourishes the various dhatus (tissues) in the body and promotes a healthy skeletal and neuromuscular system.
Cover photograph By chefranden, Flickr Creative Commons Sunrise photograph By rolfekolbe, Flickr Creative Commons Grape photograph By Anders Ljungberg, Flickr Creative Commons Buddha photograph By garryknight, Flickr Creative Commons Flower photograph By-tonrulkens.jpg, Flickr Creative Commons
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.